RARITAN TWP., NJ – Township resident Marty Resnick has a big concern and is willing to do something about it.
“I see the kids having nothing to do,” he told Township Committee at its regular meeting last week.
“We blame the kids for drugs,” said Resnick, who many know as an owner of Flemington Department Store. “I look in the mirror. I blame us, the community, for not supplying the kids with something they can do.”
Resnick said he has spoken with Lesley Gabel at Hunterdon Prevention Resources, who agreed with him that “if the kids have something to do, a much smaller percentage of them will end up on drugs.”
One thing that Resnick thinks that would help occupy them: A movie theater. He asked Township Committee to consider allowing a tax break or tax abatement “for anybody that would help us build a movie theater in this area.”
Resnick said the break may be needed because otherwise, “If it’s not profitable, the businesses won’t run it.”
“There are real strict state regulations about tax abatements,” said Mayor Karen Gilbert.
Committee person Michael Mangin said that in order to qualify for a “payment in lieu of taxes” program – also known as a PILOT – the site would first have to be designated as an area in need of development, such as what Flemington has done with the Union Hotel and surrounding properties.
Resnick is also pursuing other ways to occupy kids. He’s renting school buses and taking them to New Egypt Speedway where he also races a car, as part of what he calls a Saturday night “Race Club,” and he said “kids are having a great time.”
He also sought the Committee’s help with arranging for Hunterdon Central High School’s Field House to be open Saturday evenings.
“I’d like it to be a place where the kids can go, hang out, have Wi-Fi, video games, whatever they want to do,” Resnick said. “But give them a place that’s safe that they can go to, that they are familiar with.”
“I can get businesses to donate food ... I can get kids to be there,” said Resnick. “I’ll create things that they want to do, not what I want to do. We’ll ask kids what they want ... I’m asking for a safe place for kids to go.”
“Maybe we need to approach the major business leaders in this community, like you, to talk about coming together and seeing what we can do,” the mayor told him, to which Resnick replied, “I’ll do whatever it takes.”
Committee person Lou Reiner said he is “enthused” with the high school’s board and “I feel very comfortable that accommodations will be able to be made.”
Resnick said he’d like to see similar efforts made throughout Hunterdon.
In Flemington, dozens of DIY supporters praised the group at Borough Council’s meeting this week.
Located in the borough-owned 90 Main Street where its lease was recently renewed, DIY’s mission statement defines it as “a place to inspire social change ... to provide a safe and creative space for the community.”
While it’s most closely associated with concerts and arts community events, DIY programs also include tai chi every Saturday morning, tap dancing instructions, knitting, crafts and films.
Resident Joanne Braun said she’s participated in DIY’s arts efforts that are “for children all the way to adults.”
Sher DeGenova, a 30-year borough resident, said she's grateful for DIY. The mother of four had two children involved with the group, which she described as one that “promotes creativity, in a positive peer-based environment ... instead of hanging out on the courthouse steps.” She particularly acknowledged the support one of her sons - who has autism – received from DIY.
“They provided us with volunteer high school students” to run an art class for people with disabilities, she said, giving them “a safe place, that’s inspiring and social.”
Taylor Rotolo is from Ringoes and attended Hunterdon Central “so I believe this is my second hometown,” she told Borough Council. She praised the group for its “community-based, inclusive practices that are inspiring to my own ideas as a social worker.”
Merry LaRue of Oldwick Community Players said her group has been active since the‘70s and uses DIY space for auditions and rehearsals. Without it, they wouldn’t be able to produce some of their plays, she said.
Raritan Township resident Judith Segers said her children have “benefitted greatly” from the group’s programs and that she regularly participates in its programs.
Flemington DIY also attracts participants from outside of Hunterdon, something Delaware Township resident George Eckelman said offers an economic advantage to the borough. He suggested DIY post some signs and a sandwich board outside 90 Main to help promote the group.